Theodore Dreiser: An American Journey, 1908-1945

Theodore Dreiser: An American Journey, 1908-1945

by Richard R. Lingeman

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The concluding installment of Lingeman's ( Small Town Americasic ) two-volume biography finds Dreiser (1871-1945) employed in midlife as an editor at Butterfield Publications, having published his first novel, Sister Carrie --but not for long. The literary renegade abruptly left wife and job to sweat it out as a writer in New York's Greenwich Village, subsisting on little but ambivalent critical notices until the tidal-wave success of An American Tragedy . Lingeman, executive editor of the Nation , immerses himself in the history of the American left to make sense of Dreiser's engagement with Stalinism and with the Communist flank of American syndicalism, discovering considerable political astuteness in Dreiser's partisan activity. This portrait, based on letters and journals, shows a clearer thinker than is usually conveyed by Dreiser's reputation as a curmudgeon unable to pen a navigable sentence. Lingeman avoids simple assessment, forging beyond Freudian cliches in considering Dreiser's sexual identity, with its simultaneous striving for freedom and stability. On the whole, his is an undeluded, jargon-free biography which finds much to admire in both the man and his work. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Judicious and basically sympathetic, this final volume of Lingeman's two-volume work (following Theodore Dreiser: At the Gates of the City, 1871-1907 , Putnam, 1986) should supersede W.A. Swanberg's Dreiser ( LJ 3/15/65). Able to reconcile contrarieties in Dreiser's personality, Lingeman is particularly good in detailing Dreiser's run-ins with censors and publishers, his uneasy alliance/friendship with Mencken, his use of the Gillette-Brown murder case in An American Tragedy , his compulsive affairs with younger women, and his unflagging search for purpose in an apparently chaotic universe. This lively volume offers us not only the artist at the height of his powers, but, finally, the man who spent the last 20 years of his life worrying fruitlessly about a host of social, political, and metaphysical problems. Essential.-- Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, Mo.

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Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
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20.00(w) x 20.00(h) x 20.00(d)

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